ZZ Plant Leaf Propagation: 2 Easy Water And Soil Methods

ZZ plants are so easy to care for, it makes sense that they are also very simple plants to propagate. These resilient plants look great in any room, so why not propagate the ones you have to get more ZZ plants for free?

There are many ways you can propagate a ZZ plant, but one of the most effective ways is to propagate through the leaves. That way, you can get as many plants out of a single stem as possible!

Propagating ZZ plants only takes a few minutes, but once you’ve started the process, you will need some patience more than anything, as it can take a good while for new plants to develop roots.

It’s best to have several propagation projects on the go, especially if you have other plants that will root quicker, as this will stop you from getting frustrated that your ZZ cuttings aren’t doing much!

Interested in propagating your ZZ plants? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Propagating ZZ Plants Using A Few Leaves

To make it easier, if there is a stray stalk that’s getting too long, or it’s ‘reaching’ for you every time you walk past it, it’s a good idea to cut the whole thing off.

Provided that the stalk and the leaves are healthy, there’s no reason why you can’t make more than a few plants out of the whole stalk!

Take a pair of sharp scissors, and cut off some healthy plant material, whether that is a whole stalk right to the compost or a section of a stem.

Snip each leaf off the cutting, roughly where the leaf meets the stem. You don’t need to leave a portion of the stalk (technically the petiole) on each leaf, as the leaf should produce rhizomes either way.

Unlike succulent plants that need a few days for the wounds to callous over, you can propagate ZZ plants straight away.

You can do this through water propagation or soil propagation, and it largely depends on which you prefer more than anything else.

When propagating any plant, always take more cuttings than you plan on growing. 

No cutting is guaranteed to produce roots or rhizomes, so taking a couple more than how many plants you’re planning to have at the end is a good idea.

It’s also a pleasant surprise when all your cuttings root. You can always swap the spare plants with someone for another plant you want, or give them as gifts!

How To Propagate ZZ Plant Leaves In Compost

It’s not difficult to propagate ZZ leaves in soil, but you do have to keep in mind that the leaves can take ages to root, so it can be pretty frustrating when you can’t see what’s going on underneath the surface of the soil.

If you want to propagate in soil, gently put each leaf into the compost, about half an inch deep. To stop them from falling over, if you have square pots, you can put them around the edges of the soil, if you prefer.

In terms of soil type, it’s a good idea to use some fresh compost with some perlite mixed in, as this will improve drainage.

Lightly water the pot once all the leaves are firmly in the soil and place it somewhere warm and bright to root.

Check the compost every few days to see if it needs more water. It’s a good idea to water when the surface is dry to the touch, and avoid letting the soil get bone dry. 

While ZZ plants can withstand drought, the leaves on their own have no rhizomes to fall back on for water, so they won’t tolerate the same conditions.

If the soil does get too dry for too long, this can slow down or even halt the leaves from producing rhizomes.

It can take several weeks to months to see new growth, but when you do, you’ll know that the cuttings have produced roots of their own.

How To Propagate ZZ Plant Leaves In Water

Typically, it takes less time to propagate ZZ plants in water rather than in compost, but you do have to pot them up eventually.

If you want to propagate your ZZ leaves by using water, take a small container and fill it with around half an inch of water. 

Put your leaves around the edges, allowing the bottom part to be submerged in water, but no more than this. 

Any sort of container will do, as long as the leaves can sit upright, and you can keep an eye on the water line.

Don’t let the water dry up completely, as this will be detrimental to the potential growth of the new plants. 

Aim to change the water every few days, or when it gets cloudy or becomes a strange color. Whichever comes first.

Place the container in a warm and bright spot, away from direct sunlight, which can bake the poor leaves before they have a chance to produce rhizomes.

It can take some time for your plants to produce rhizomes, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but it will happen!

Once they start producing roots as well as rhizomes, they are ready for pots. It’s a good idea to put several rooted leaves in the same pot so that they will eventually merge into one big plant, and there’s less chance of root rot when there is a bigger root system.

How To Speed Up Propagation And Ensure Success

There aren’t many shortcuts when it comes to growing plants, but you can speed up propagation to a certain extent. 

One of the biggest factors to help speed up propagation, and sometimes increase the number of successful cuttings is to keep the cuttings in a warm and stable environment.

Aim for temperatures between 76°F and 90°F for best results.

One of the best ways to do this is to put the cuttings in a propagation box with vent holes, which helps keep them warm, but also keeps them a little more humid, too.

You could also invest in a heat mat, which helps both seed propagation and cuttings. These tend to be quite cheap to run, and it helps if you factor in that the added warmth can cut the time to propagate ZZ cuttings by weeks!

It’s also important to give the cuttings enough light. They are very unlikely to grow properly without any light, as this won’t give the leaves the energy they need to produce rhizomes. 

Things To Consider When Propagating ZZ Plants

They Take Longer Than Some Plants To Root

Just like snake plant propagation, ZZ plants are not the quickest plants to propagate. 

They WILL eventually produce new growth, but if you like to see results within a few days, it’s better to pick something like a Tradescantia, which will root pretty readily.

But that’s not to say that propagating ZZ plants has to take an age. 

If you get the growing conditions right, by making sure that the cuttings have a stable, warm environment, and plenty of light and moisture, you can ensure the process is as quick as possible.

It’s likely to take several months, but always make sure that you propagate your plants in the growing season for the best results. 

If you try and do this during winter, the growth will take significantly longer to appear, if it propagates successfully at all.

ZZ Cuttings Rotting During Water Propagation

Some propagations will fail. This is the nature of the beast. 

After all, it’s a great shock for any plant part to be suddenly cut off from the environment it’s adapted to, the water and the nutrients, to have no root system at all.

But if you find that more than one or two cuttings are rotting when you’re propagating them in water, something might be wrong.

Always start with a clean container (washing it out with hot soapy water to begin with, and then letting it cool down before you think of taking any cuttings.)

Put your cuttings in water straight away to avoid too much moisture loss. Think of plant parts like a limb – which is essentially what they are – and the moisture like blood.

If they lose too much moisture, the cuttings aren’t likely to make it. The exception here of course is succulent plants, where you need to set them aside to form a callous over the wounds.

Always make sure that you change the water regularly to give the cuttings a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients.

If you find that one or two have gone rotten, take them out and discard them. Wash the container out and replace with fresh water and the remaining cuttings. Leaving them in there can rot the rest!

It’s also important that when the cuttings have formed roots, you don’t wait too long to plant them up. 

They won’t survive in water forever, as they will be starved of nutrients, and they may take up too much water, too.

Alternative Methods Of Propagation

If you want instant results, and you have a ZZ plant already with more than a couple of stems, you can divide the plant at the roots, and plant the new division up as a separate plant, putting the original back in its pot.

Again, it’s only advisable to do this during spring or summer, when the plant is actively growing. Do not disturb the roots during fall or winter

If you do, you risk shocking the plant while the growth is slowing down or has gone completely dormant.

As well as taking leaf cuttings, you can also propagate segments of the stem, or the whole piece of the stem, using either water or soil to encourage roots.

It can be a good idea to use a mixture of different methods to see what works for you, your plants, and in your growing conditions. Experiment with different variations, and you’ll soon find which way works best.

Final Thoughts

ZZ plants are very easy to keep, and with the ease of propagation, it makes sense to encourage more plants to form.

However, you will need some patience, as these plants are not the quickest to take root, and may take several months to do anything. 

But it is a good experiment nevertheless, and can make a fun side project alongside propagating other plants. 

If you prefer, you can divide your existing plant at the roots, which will give you results straight away, instead of weeks or months.

It also makes for a good insurance plant: if something happens to your original ZZ plant, such as too many pests, overwatering, or too much light, you still have another ZZ plant to care for, and you haven’t lost anything.

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